BY CYNDI HARPER GALLANT
In October 2014 I had a workplace accident. The accident was very traumatic for me physically as well as mentally. It forever changed the way I live my life; I can no longer do the work I used to do, as well as the sports that I so loved. It affects every aspect of my life, as I knew it. I want nothing more than to move forward and get on with the life I am left with, but I have had the unfortunate pleasure of dealing with Workers Compensation Board (WCB) of P.E.I.
The WCB has ruined my life and do not care about anything other than finding any kind of loophole they can to get out of helping you. I have worked for more than 35 years and every employer I had paid into WCB so that the workers would have some kind of security and help should they be injured at work. Well, I have come to learn that none of that is true on WCB's part - their prime objective is not to help get the injured worker back to work, the WCB has one objective and one only, to find any way possible to deny the injured worker any help that goes beyond a few paycheques.
I was told by an assistant at the office that more than 50 per cent of the internal appeals are denied. I do not believe that more than 50 per cent of the injured workers are untruthful and looking for a free ride.
I have never in my life had to deal with something so mentally draining and deflating. I have been dealing with the WCB for almost three years now and it is the most frustrating thing I have ever had to do. My life is nowhere the quality it should or could be and it is not fair. These practices of the WCB have been happening for decades and the government and the ministers sit by and just let it happen. Why do we even have WCB and why is it mandatory to pay into it if you cannot rely on the help that the WCB claims that they provide?
Employers paying into WCB are just wasting their money and it gives the employee a false sense of security - it will never be there if or when needed. It’s there to make money for themselves. I wonder if any of the WCB employees have ever gotten hurt at their cushy office job where the most you might do is drop a stapler on your foot or carpal tunnel from all the denials they write.
I and many other workers like me have worked at dangerous and very physically demanding jobs, with the false sense that if I get hurt I will at least get help afterwards so that I can at least sustain myself. If I had known what was going to happen to me, well I can assure you that I would never have done the jobs I did.
The world is full of mental health issues and hopelessness because even though we are surrounded by people and so easily connected, no one really seems to care about one another, and no one will stand up for each other anymore. We say that the world needs to be more tolerant, well maybe we just need to change things, such as the injustice that WCB does to injured workers.
I submit this letter in the hopes of at least starting a conversation towards changing the unfair practices and the false sense of security that WCB has gotten away with for many years, without any repercussions from the government or the bodies that are supposed to be overseeing this system.
- Cyndi Harper Gallant of Calgary had lived and worked in P.E.I. until three years ago. She had made arrangements to move to Calgary just six weeks prior to her P.E.I. workplace accident and has been dealing with WCB P.E.I. ever since.